Ethnobotanical Leaflets 14: 435-44,� 2010.
An Appraisal of the Contributions of Herbalism to Primary Health Care Delivery in South West Nigeria
A. B. Kadiri, A. A. Adekunle and *A. E. Ayodele
Department of Botany and Microbiology
Issued April 1, 2010
Herbalism contributes significantly to the primary health care delivery system in the southwest Nigeria through sale and administration of different herbal medicinal preparations which are available in a number of ways like tinctures, herbal wine and elixirs, tisanes, decoctions, macerates, topical, poultices, whole herb consumption, syrup, extracts, inhalation, local rings, incision and rubbing, charm belt, and other charm apparels. Medicines may be hawked by the ambulatory vendors (apothecary) or patients consulting practitioners. Charges are relatively cheap, consultation is prompt and the medicines are reportedly efficacious. Non-exclusion of anybody from patronizing and being organized around people�s needs and expectations, which are two of the key elements of WHO to achieve the ultimate goal of primary health care of better health for all are affectively entrenched in the practice. We adopted and employed basic scientific method, anthropological training skills and study approaches in Humanities to elicit our findings. Government support is highly solicited
Key words: Primary health care, hebalism, Nigeria.
Ethnobotany is the scientific study of the relationships that
exist between people
(Cunningham, 2001). It aims to document, describe and explain complex
relationships between cultures and uses of plants: focusing, primarily, on
how plants are used, managed and perceived across human societies such as
foods, medicines, tools, currency, clothing, textiles, in divination; in
cosmetics; in dyeing; in construction; in literature; in rituals; and in
social life (Cunningham, 2001). John
William Harshberger, a
All of these key elements are entrenched in the practices of traditional medicine which is wildly gaining popularity in the country because of the intrinsic advantages of efficacy, prompt delivery, cost effectiveness and easy accessibility.� Public health is battered by the consequences of bad policies made in other sectors. Already, the costs of health care push an estimated 100 million people below the poverty line each year; the market does not solve social problems but public health does (WHO, 2007, 2008, 2009). The world health watch dog has declared that people should not be denied access to life-saving and health-promoting interventions for unfair reasons, including those with economic or social causes. WHO contended further that it should be pursued for its own sake, its own intrinsic worth as a condition that allows people to develop their human potential. In fact, as a basic human right, the Declaration of Alma-Ata launched primary health care as the route to health for all, this was a deliberate effort to tackle huge, and largely avoidable, differences in the health status of populations. The declaration put health equity on the international political agenda for the first time. By this declaration, it means that health is of life-and-death importance. Traditional medicine has bridged the differences the inequalities in health outcomes, access to care, and what people pay for care. All too often, people who are well-off and generally healthier have the best access to the best care, while the poor are left to fend for themselves. However, it is noted in the present finding, both the rich and the down trodden poor seek medical treatment in the traditional way. They have boycotted the unnecessary tests and procedures, more and longer hospital stays, higher costs, and the exclusion of people who cannot pay.
The primary health care, as
observed by WHO (2007, 2008, 2009), is a people-centered approach to health
that makes prevention as important as cure; the approach is expected to
tackle the root causes of ill health, also in non-health sectors, thus
offering an upstream attack on threats to health. With the proper mechanism
being in place, it can prevent much of the disease burden, and also prevent
people with minor complaints from flooding the emergency wards of hospitals.
Health is the very foundation of productivity and prosperity and a
contribution to social stability; in fact the practice of herbalism
in the cosmopolitan south west
�Herbalism is a
medicine practice based on the use of plants
extracts. Herbalism is also known as
botanical medicine, medical herbalism, herbal
medicine, herbology, and phytotherapy. The scope of herbal medicine is
sometimes extended to include fungal and bee products, as well as minerals, shells
and certain animal parts. Long practiced outside of conventional medicine, herbalism is becoming more popular as improvements in
analysis and quality control along with advances in clinical research show
their value in the treatment and prevention of disease. Countries in Africa,
The contributions of herbalism: herbal trade, usage and handling to primary health care delivery system in the south-west Nigeria is investigated, in this study, with the view to evaluate and document the various ailments that are attended to by the practitioners; to report all the plant specimens which are used and transported on daily basis within the southwest and from other parts of the country to this area and to shed more light on the activities of the herbal traders, users and government with a view to determine how far traditional medicine has become contributory to health care delivery in the south west Nigeria.� We adopted and employed basic scientific method, anthropological training skills as well as study approaches in humanities to investigate the phytomedical practices of the herbalists and their consequences on primary health care delivery system in the study. In the area, herbalism has been revitalized and attracts more people in recent times than before. Many of the activities of the herbalists have touched the lives of the people on daily basis because the health issues that are addressed have direct link to productivity at work, reproduction, body immunity, common vector borne ailments, few congenital maladies, minor injuries and mishaps, sound health maintenance, inexplicable acclaimed uses such as protection from witchcraft and accidents, undue favouritism or luck, spiritualism and so on.
Materials and Method
The data were obtained from
herbal traders across the south western
Result and Discussion
The medicinal plant specimens
that were used on daily basis and the various ailments that were treated
almost on daily basis too are presented in Tables 2 and 3. 1,861 health
services providers were interviewed, out of which 29.5% were males and 70.5%
were females. Both males and females use herbal medicine. The ages of the
service providers ranged from 32 to 85, their year of experience varied from
7 to 55 years and 89.7% of them were literate with the minimum educational
level of first school leaving certificate or its equivalent, while 0.9% of
the respondents had university education and the rest were illiterates.
Knowledge transfer is usually from parents to children, sometimes some of the
respondents enroll as apprentices where they either receive training free of
charge or pay a reasonable fee for tuition. Plant materials were obtained
from neighbouring forest areas within the country
and the surrounding countries like
85% of the respondents were afraid of meeting with government for fear of depriving them of their knowledge, according to them, government is deceptive and exploitative. We found out from the study that the preparations marketed were available in the following forms:
Tinctures - Alcoholic extracts of herbs.
Tisanes - Hot water extracts of herb.
Decoctions - Long-term boiled extract of usually roots or bark.
Topicals:� This involves soaking in plant oils to extract certain phytochemicals. Ointments used for dressing wounds are prepared this way.
Poultices and compresses - Whole herb (or the appropriate part of the plant) is usually crushed or dried and re-hydrated with a small amount of water and then applied directly in a bandage, cloth or just as it is.
Extracts - Include liquid extracts and dry extracts. Liquid extracts are liquids with a lower ethanol percentage than tinctures. Dry extracts are extracts of plant material which are evaporated into a dry mass. They can then be further refined to a capsule or tablet.
Other preparations include local rings that have been soaked in many plant concoctions, incision and rubbing, charm belt, and other charm apparels which are worn.��
����� In conclusion, all the respondents suggested funding by governments, teaching of traditional medicine in schools, supply of incentives such as machines for drug processing, establishment of medicinal plant garden across the country, provision of good roads, consistent public enlightenment and availability of bank loans as means of improving the contributions of herbalism to primary health care delivery.
Cunningham, A. B. (2001). Applied Ethnobotany: People Wild Plant Use
and Conservation. Earthscan Publications Ltd.,
Z. O. (1984). Vernacular names of
Nigerian Plants (Yoruba). Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria,
Kadiri, A. B. (2008). Evaluation of medicinal herbal trade in Lagos of Nigeria. Ethnobotanical Leaflets. 12: 677-681.
Sofowora, A. (2006). Medicinal
Plants and Traditional Medicine in
(2007). Primary health care -
now more than ever. International Federation of Red Cross and Red
WHO (2008). Global Health and Care Forum: Primary health care starts with people. Geneva.
International Conference on Primary Health Care and Health Systems in Africa:
Towards the Achievement of the Health Millennium Development Goals.
(2009). Keynote address at the 12th World Congress on Public Health.
Table 1: Ethnobotanical Research Questions.
ETHNOBOTANICAL PROJECT 2009
Table 2: Scientific names of plants used in primary health care delivery in south western Nigeria.